sheenaghpugh: (Bad news)
This man was so much part of my youth. I lived in Nottingham from when I was about 14 to when I went to uni, and at that time Neville ran the Nottingham Playhouse. He made a point of trying to include in the repertoire some of the classic texts the city schools were studying for A-level, which is why I got to see him performing Iago to Robert Ryun's Othello. I saw him in much else too, though never, alas, in the famous portrayal of Petruchio during which, as he flourished a stage sword, the wooden blade flew off and landed somewhere in the audience. Neville made a great show of looking for it, all over the stage. Then he turned to Grumio (Bill Maynard, who told the tale for years after) and uttered what was in fact the next line in the play: "We are beset with thieves". Now that's thinking on your feet. Great actor, great theatre manager.
sheenaghpugh: (Vogon poetry appreciation chair)
How's this for a good marketing idea? Here is Paul Yandle's poem "Dogs" from the anthology of dog poems I blogged about in my last post, and he's recorded it not only with his rather lovely reading voice but set it to kinetic typography using words from the poem (and playing with said words visually; see what he does with "circling"). Curiously enough, though this uses modern technology, it had a precursor in the artist Paul Peter Piech, who used to make posters using text to create pieces of calligraphy. Mostly he used political texts but he did sometimes set poems too; he did a lovely one for Dannie Abse. This is an ingenious update of the technique; give it a listen!
sheenaghpugh: (Vogon poetry appreciation chair)
Some folk on Planet Academia are sniffy about Billy Collins, finding him not complex and multi-layered enough. I think myself that this poem could both start and end a few lines in from where it does. But... it's funny and well-turned, and more to the point, a brilliant performance; his timing and delivery would do credit to a top stand-up. If I ever get the chance to go and hear him read, I certainly shall.
sheenaghpugh: (Default)
Geraldine Paine's collection The Go-Away Bird is available from the publisher, Lapwing Press of Belfast, at and I reviewed it here.  It contains her sequence "Leaden Hearts" , partly-found poems derived from convict tokens - these men and women, leaving their homes and families for transportation to the other side of the world, left tokens with last messages for loved ones:

There could be no flowers,
no grave, just this voice
left behind, barely heard.
Did he guess
family shame
would gouge out his name?
                                                       this you
                                                       see remember
                                                       me and bear me
                                                       in your mind Let
                                                       all the world say
                                                       what they whill
                                                       Don't prove To
                                                       me un kind

Interview and more poems behind cut )
Links to more poems and information

Geraldine's page on the PoetryPF site - some poems and biographical information.

Amazon UK's page for The Go-Away Bird

The Basil Bunting Poetry Award - here you can listen to Geraldine's commended poem "The Creek"

sheenaghpugh: (Vogon poetry appreciation chair)
I don't copy all the reviews I write to this blog, but am doing so with this one, partly because it's a new press which should therefore be encouraged, and partly because one way or another, I know several people in Manchester, who might be interested. There's a shorter version of this on

An anthology of the current poetry scene in Manchester )

sheenaghpugh: (Anthony Gormley's Another Place)
Went south to visit family and also did a couple of gigs. The first was a reading at the Michaelhouse in Cambridge, a venue which isn't quite as ecclesiastical as it looks from the photos. This was very enjoyable as it was organised by Anne Berkeley, who apart from being a fine poet and noted performer with the Joy of Six group, is a friend of mine. It also featured the very interesting Daniel Hardisty, who is one of the very few male poets I have ever met who claims always to wear a tie - most of them don't own one. The audience was friendly and bought some books, though needless to say the book-buying record of the amazingly cultured citizens of Haverfordwest still stands unchallenged.

I chose the wrong time to visit Cambridge: (a) the Scott Polar Research Institute, which to an arctic nut like me is far and away its most important building, was shut for some reason, and (b) it was exam time, so all the pretty colleges had notices warning the riffraff to keep out. But it was a nice day for wandering, and dodging the hordes of bicycles.

Next day I visited a London school, the Grey Coat Hospital, where I had some friends on FB, one of whom was enterprising enough to get his English dept to set up a gig - thanks, Joe. This was great fun, with the usual intelligent questions (only adults ask daft ones) and an unexpected bonus in the shape of book-buying teachers! That doesn't usually happen, but the GCH staff are clearly cultivated and upstanding citizens to a woman.

Oh, and I met another poet friend for lunch at Tate Britain, though since we had unwisely agreed to meet at the "entrance" without specifying which one, there was a certain amount of following each other round the outside of the building frantically texting before we met....

And am now back home in the very unfrozen north, with a cat liberated from the cattery who is enjoying the sun as much as I am. Managed to leave something behind at the house where I stayed. By way of apology, and to prove there are folk with even worse memories than me, I sent my hostess this letter from Sydney Smith to his recent house guest Tom Moore:
here )
sheenaghpugh: (Vogon poetry appreciation chair)
Anyone at a loose end in Cambridge tomorrow Tuesday 11 May? I'm reading at Michaelhouse, Trinity Street. Event starts at 8 pm (doors open 7.30). Support reader is Daniel Hardisty and there will be a brief open mike (get there early to sign up: preference is given to those who haven't read here before). Entry fee is £5/£3, and there is a licensed café serving snacks.
sheenaghpugh: (Vogon poetry appreciation chair)
My publisher has been making YouTube vids:

The Beautiful Lie is one of the few I've written that I was reasonably happy with.

Brief Lives: Papa Stour

And this one they, and I, didn't make - it's my poem, called It's Only Love, but read by a lady called Jane Learmonth, who, irritatingly, is not only younger and prettier than me but reads better. I'd add grr, but it's a compliment really, isn't it....
sheenaghpugh: (Vogon poetry appreciation chair)
- for which, actually, you won't need the Vogon poetry appreciation chair. Geraldine Paine's first full-length collection, The Go-Away Bird (pub. Lapwing, Belfast) gets launched from 6pm-8pm on Friday December 12th at the Chris Beetles gallery, 8-10 Ryder Street, London SW1 (between Green Park and Piccadilly Circus tube stations).

There's a page on Geraldine here and some poems here. She's been all sorts of things that poets generally aren't, including an actress and a magistrate - she has a lovely sequence of "found poems" called Leaden Hearts, based on tokens left behind for their families by transported convicts, in which they sound as close to us as any modern bad (or unfortunate)lad. She also has close family ties with Zimbabwe and writes about that troubled place (which again, not many poets do, that I know of) in a way that manages to be both elegiac and life-enhancing. And about being a wartime evacuee child, and eating oysters, and a whole lot else.

Good collection, which I'll do a full review of later, and it'll be a good reading; she's been part of a performing poets' group called Scatterlings for some time.


Oct. 27th, 2008 03:44 pm
sheenaghpugh: (Vogon poetry appreciation chair)
Just did a gig at the Torbay festival - well two actually, a reading, with David Perman, and an adjudication. The reading would, I think, have worked better if the sound equipment had worked - as it was, we had a duff microphone that seemed to be generating crackle, which was irritating for the performers and must have been worse for the audience. These things really need testing in advance. By the evening it seemed to be fixed, and adjudications are always fun because you're giving out money to winners. I was dead chuffed that one of the winning poems, which I'd chosen for its musicality, did in fact turn out to be a song lyric, and its proud owner was delighted to have it recognised that Lyrics Can Also Be Poems. She was a Brassens fan, too.

While we were there, we naturally took the chance to look around a bit:
behind cut be touristy stuff on Torbay, arr! )
And we sold some books, which is after all the entire object of the exercise.... but it's nice when you can do it in pretty surroundings. Good also to meet some folks I hadn't seen in a while.
sheenaghpugh: (Vogon poetry appreciation chair)
For the first time, on Tuesday, I read at a Poetry Live! event at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff). These are all-day events organised for A-level and AS-level students where they get to hear poets on their syllabus actually read the stuff they're studying. They also ask questions and hear people from the examining board talk about the best way to prepare for the exams.

That might sound dire, but actually they were really enthusiastic (I suppose a day out of school is always welcome). The main auditorium of that theatre is a hell of an impressive place and going out on the stage to hear 1600 people yell enthusiastically in the expectation of being entertained is a thing that doesn't happen very often to poets.

Things that stuck in the memory:

  • meeting the Indian poet Imtiaz Dharker. She's very handsome, and wore gorgeous silver jewellery from Bombay (yes I know the BBC calls it Mumbai but all the people I know who live there or come from there insist it's Bombay). But she was also one of nature's motherly types; she'd gravitated to being in charge of the tea and coffee and was making everyone feel at home backstage.
  • the foolishness of the theatre management in compelling the kids, on a day of uncertain autumn weather, to eat their lunchtime sandwiches outside in case they made a mess. Ever heard of vacuum cleaners, lads? This is your potential audience you're making unwelcome here - silly, silly.
  • finding out about some of the weirder questions that get asked (not that day, thank god). One poet had been asked "Do you know Jesus is your personal saviour?" - to which I think the only possible answer would be "You hum it and I'll play it". Another evidently disaffected brat had once asked "Why are poems so boring?" (I think I'd have had to quote my granny; only boring people are ever bored).
  • meeting my daughter afterwards and going to the Norwegian Church for lunch (ie cake). It was one of their better days, when you gaze at dark and white chocolate tarts, lemon meringue, Victoria sponge, chocolate and raspberry roulade, drool, drool, and wonder what on earth you are going to choose.

Fortunately it is now possible to walk across the Cardiff Bay barrage afterwards and counteract some of the calories.
sheenaghpugh: (Posterity)
Did I mention I've got a vid on YouTube reading a poem from the new book? Probably not, because I hate the sound of my voice on tape same as everyone does. But Seren's poetry editor got a camera that would do it, so we made it at her kitchen table. It's here - and Paul Henry's, which is far better cos Paul's sexier than me, is here
sheenaghpugh: (Heslop from Porridge)
Copies of the new book, Long-Haul Travellers, arrived last night, just in time to have a launch today at the gig I'd got booked in Bedwas, near Caerphilly, through Barrie Llewelyn's writers' group. It seemed to go well. they were a most friendly bunch and bought lots of books, indicating that they are Good Eggs, though the all-time record for book-buying is still with the incomparable folks of Haverfordwest.

Here's the final cover. I do believe the book has no typos....

And it's green(ish). Heslop would like it.

sheenaghpugh: (Vogon poetry appreciation chair)
While on the way to the gig in Wellington and idly reading the Indy, I was momentarily astonished by their assertion, in an article on the nutcase pseudo-philosopher Ayn Rand, that she had been married to "the writer Frank O'Connor". I know little of Rand's biog, but am a fan of O'Connor and was sure he'd never been married to any such person (he was far too bright). Sure enough, a quick google later established that it was some obscure US actor (and florist!) of the same name the lady had stuck her hooks in. So if I could find that out in a few moments, why couldn't the Indy? I thought serious national newspapers were meant to take more care than that.

Wellington; nice audience, fairly dull-looking town for Shropshire, which is blessed with some very pretty small towns. This one was evidently never home to any great architect, though it did have a literary association - Mr Grumpy, aka Philip Larkin, was once the librarian and was apparently very rude both to and about his customers. No surprise there, then....
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